The Lifecycle Of Building A New Sales Funnel (A to Z)

The Lifecycle Of Building A New Sales Funnel (A to Z)
Funnel Strategy August 17, 2016

Inside of every sale, the funnel is a lifecycle: each step in the cycle represents an essential element of success that can repeat for new funnels.

By understanding the lifecycle of a successful funnel, you can streamline your funnel hacking process and know exactly what to do when it’s time to roll out a new one.

Not all sales funnels are created equal.

While some of us may deal with digital solutions and software, for example, others may be building in the world of physical products.

The approach to marketing and refining such funnels is like comparing apples to oranges.

Some industries may be considered “easier” than others regarding funnel hacking; however, the fact remains that sales funnels are being built across all industries, from SEO software to healthcare and beyond.

The key is funnel hacking is working smarter, not harder.

What if there was a way to simplify the funnel building process and roll out new funnels on a regular basis without having to reinvent the wheel?

Thankfully, there is.

Each new sales funnel represents a lifecycle, regardless of your niche or industry.

From the planning phase to launch and eventually autopilot mode, just about any sales funnel can be simplified into a seven-step cycle.

By streamlining your planning process and knowing exactly what to do both pre and post-launch, you can crank out new funnels without breaking a sweat.

But where do you start?

Shopping together

Build the Ideal Customer

Remember: it’s all about the customer.

It’s easy to get caught up in the sexiness of sales funnels, the thrill of marketing and of course, making money.

However, the fact that we can’t hope to accomplish much of anything without our customers should be kept close to our hearts.

Now, if someone asked you directly “what do your customers want,” what would you say?

If you hope to have a compelling answer, and likewise build a sales funnel that actually sells to such a customer, you’re going to need to know exactly what your ideal customer looks like.

After all, how can you hope to convert if you don’t know who you’re going after?

Enter the world of customer avatars.

Now, some may find the concept of building the ideal customer avatar to be somewhat tedious of unnecessary; however, the research and information compiled in this first step of the funnel building process could potentially make or break your marketing efforts.

In short, building a customer avatar requires you quite literally to flesh out who your ideal customer would be, addressing their wants, needs, and desires and determining how your product would work to serve them.

Blogging guru Neil Patel, for example, recommends giving avatars (which he refers to as “personas”) a literal face (via stock photo), name, family, life story and so on.

The purpose of this exercise is to humanize your audience beyond being faceless numbers and to better understand their struggles.

To create your ideal customer avatar, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the demographics of your ideal customer (think: age, gender, location, level of education, annual income, occupation)?
  • What other brands, products, service and sites would your ideal customer interact with (in other words, where else could you draw inspiration for a marketing message and what would resonate with your target audience)?
  • What are the goals, challenges and “pain points” affecting your ideal customer (how can your product work to best serve them, help them overcome challenges or ease their woes)?

Whether your avatar is a single mother in Miami, Florida trying to make ends meet or a software engineer in Abu Dhabi trying to build his affiliate empire, giving your customers a face can help guide your funnel building decisions to ensure that the customer comes first.

Create the “Big Idea.”

The best brands out there are supported by the “big idea.”

What’s the big idea?

Plain and simple, the big idea represents the short and sweet summary of what your product can do, why only you can do it and the “wow” factors surrounding your service.

The big idea represents the push that sends users through your sales funnel and prevents them from bouncing over to a competitor.

Uncovering your big idea may seem like a daunting task; however, you really only need to ask yourself a few simple questions to hash it out:

#1. What insight do I have that can catch the attention of my customers and make a real, emotional connection to them?

#2. How can my brand be a “hero” to my customers, working to solve their problems and ultimately serve as the ultimate resource?

#3. How can I sum up the goals and mission of my brand in a single sentence to build trust with my customers?

If you can confidently provide answers to the questions above, you’re already way ahead of the game.

Competitor and Market Research

Excited Female Shoppers With Sale Bags In Mall

Now for the fun part.

There are many ways to keep up with your competition; however, it’s crucial that you understand what’s working and what isn’t in your industry rather than simply try to keep up with the neighbors.

Market research can become somewhat of an obsession, so don’t forget the need to get down to business when push comes to shove.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to market research, consider this five-pronged approach to competitor analysis to keep yourself lase-focused on the task at hand:

  • Compile a short list of competitors in your space, whether they are competing for the same traffic you are or they’re pushing a similar product that you are.
  • Save yourself time, energy and a headache by looking at what’s working for your competition regarding traffic, marketing message and brainstorm how you could do it better (for example, if they’re employing a robust content marketing campaign, consider how you could make your content 10x stronger than your competition).
  • Understand where your competitor’s traffic is coming from and how you could potentially harness it; meanwhile, also consider untapped traffic sources that they haven’t gone after yet
  • Determine what your competitors are doing regarding existing advertising (native ads or Facebook advertising, for example), keywords and content marketing (and use their success to influence your own strategy).
  • Figure out how your product and funnels differ from your competition and think about how you can ultimately highlight those differences as you move forward with your own marketing efforts (much of this will come from the avatar above and big idea).

Remember: work smarter and not harder.

While you shouldn’t play copycat to outdo your competition, you should have a thorough understand of what you’re up against before you get started.

Build Your Funnel in ClickFunnels (Based on Research)

You’ve done your homework, now it’s time to build.

Customization is the name of the game when it comes to building your sales funnel using ClickFunnels.

There are so many features at your disposal to help build a hungry base of users that actually convert, but where do you start?

The difference between ClickFunnels and traditional funnel-building platforms are the built-in elements that give users that extra push, including but not limited to:

  • Progress bars that build a sense of urgency among users eager to buy from you
  • Surveys that build trust giving your funnel a human element by asking users what they want
  • Countdown timers that remind visitors that the clock is ticking and that they need to buy sooner rather than later (thus reducing your bounce rate and hacking your conversion rates)
  • SMS reminders that put your product directly into your users’ pockets
  • Video unlockers which tap into the booming video market and give your visitors an exclusive taste of what you have to offer

The amount of customization options available can almost be overwhelming, but hey, that’s a good thing.

You don’t have to restrict yourself regarding marketing strategy or design when you build your funnel.

In other words, you can apply the best practices within your industry with your own market research to build the perfect funnel with no brakes.

Start Traffic

Hong Kong shopping street

If you build it, they will come.

Once your funnel is ready for action, it’s time to start driving traffic.

However, make sure you avoid junk traffic at all costs and instead hone your marketing strategy to focus on visitors that will actually convert.

Where will your quality traffic come from?

  • Organic traffic, driven by targeted keywords within your niche (including long-tail keywords, often untapped by many marketers); ideal for funnels supported by a blog with a hungry readership
  • Social traffic from platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, optimized for conversions through extensive research and A/B testing
  • Affiliate traffic, targeted by affiliates who understand your customers and what they want

Despite popular belief, traffic is not simply a numbers game. Rather than trying to convert customers blindly, build a traffic stream that you can depend on instead of just hoping for the best.

Optimize…

Once you get the ball rolling on your sales funnel, you can work to optimize your existing traffic as means of increasing your click-through rates and conversions.

For example, you can start by:

  • Understanding where users are dropping off and failing to convert, either through your analytics or heatmapping software
  • Looking at feedback from users, either on social media or through blog comments to understand potential drawbacks of your funnel
  • Considering how you could integrate addition features in ClickFunnels to give users the push that they need to convert (order bumps, down sells, autoresponders and so on)
  • A/B testing calls-to-action, marketing messages, and headlines to see if your marketing message is on point

There’s almost always room for optimization.

While you shouldn’t obsess over optimizing your funnel, you should strive to be pleased with your CTRs and conversions; therefore, watch your users carefully to understand your weak points and how to fix them.

…and Repeat

And that’s it.

Once you’ve refined your planning strategy, understand what features in ClickFunnels vibe with your product and how to optimize your traffic and conversions, you’re golden.

You can rinse and repeat this process with any new product, service or affiliate in your space.

While launching a successful funnel is easier said than done, ClickFunnels gives you the customization to make it possible minus a headache.

Which process is the lifestyle do you find most challenging?

What advice would you give fellow funnel hackers to streamline the process?

Written by Stephen Esketzis

Stephen Esketzis is Head Of Content Marketing at Clickfunnels. He is known as the ‘Sales Funnel Architect’ and is a specialist at using paid traffic to generate highly profitable sales funnels. You can also listen to his podcast ‘Marketing on The Move’ and look him up on Facebook.

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